Did you choose the travel industry or did the travel industry choose you? Do you pride yourself in being a trendsetter or are you admittedly, and happily, more inclined to follow the crowd?
Either way, you want to use the buzzwords and stay on top of the trends for 2017. Right? Right.
Here are a few major trends and buzzwords you’ll be seeing and hearing about everywhere in 2017…
TREND: Bigger budgets, better experiences
We’ve seen increasingly more RFPs now that reflect a “where in the world” concept. These RFPs are pitched with multiple destinations as corporations have larger bandwidth to consider emerging destinations and international locales for their programs. We’re not seeing as much emphasis on budget and cost-savings in the RFPs as we’ve seen historically. The focus is experiential and content-driven with a healthy and refreshing dose of corporate social responsibility. Corporations are telling their stories and creating a narrative to build and enhance their brands. I foresee that this trend will bring innovation to both the proposal process and ultimately to the event itself.
TREND: Incentive travel is on the rise.
More companies, especially new, fast growing companies, are investing in incentive travel and introducing incentive programs. Based on a September 2016 Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) white paper, 61 percent of 190 respondents to a current survey on trends in incentive travel said they believe the economy is having a positive impact on their ability to plan and implement incentive travel programs. During the Incentive Live show in Las Vegas in January 2017, IRF President Melissa Van Dyke told the crowd that “in 1996, 24 percent of firms were using non-cash incentives. In 2016 that number had grown to 84 percent and there has been 17 percent growth in the past two years”. We’re optimistic this statistic will continue its positive trajectory as we know, incentive travel can be a wonderful tool for attracting and retaining engaged employees. In addition, startups or new companies who had never previously engaged in meetings or incentives are now turning to us for assistance with non-traditional programs like planning investor meetings and global off-sites for employees outside the sales force.
TREND: Re-emergence and reinvention of destinations.
Much to our excitement, we’ve seen a complete reinvention and rebirth of popular destinations like Iceland, New Zealand and now Cuba. These are regions where DMCs are designing and delivering new experiences for a myriad of reasons. Access may have been previously limited or infrastructure may have recently been enhanced and improved. Restrictions on travel to Cuba will relax dramatically in 2017 as long as the new administration continues to support and normalize relations. With new commercial flights already servicing Havana, major U.S. companies/brands have and will continue to establish a presence in Cuba, including financial institutions which will eventually pave the way for credit card use, the lack thereof being one remaining difficulty. The amendments and enhancements to the existing categories which previously allowed U.S. citizens to travel, will bring Cuba to the forefront of MICE travel. “We’re opening a new market,” said Vaya Sojourns Founder Lee Marona. “Cuba is a very exciting and interesting destination with a heavy “forbidden fruit” factor.”
Iceland and New Zealand were previously regarded as out-of-reach for incentive travelers, possibly viewed as too adventurous or lacking in the necessary infrastructure. Now both of these countries boast incredibly sophisticated, high-end activities with more mainstream soft adventure for even the most conservative traveler. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has launched its first New Zealand hotel in Auckland. “We are thrilled to welcome this stellar hotel brand to New Zealand in 2019,” said Celeste Jones, Director of Incentives, ID New Zealand. “The hotel will be ideally positioned downtown offering magnificent harbor views.” Paired with hotel luxury, many New Zealand lodges are consistently ranked in the Top 10 lodges in the world (be sure to check out Kauri Cliffs and Cape Kidnappers). There is a new sophistication in these reinvented destinations.
TREND: Risk mitigation is more important than ever.
The world is becoming increasingly accessible. Largely thanks to social media, the 24-hour news cycle, the Internet of Things and smart technology, we have the positive, negative, and now “fake” news delivered to us instantaneously. This reality brings world events and crises to us within seconds. While a destination might be popular and desirable one day, its value can plummet in a heartbeat after news breaks of a humanitarian crisis or a weather related disaster. We have all seen the recent after effects of the Zika virus or terrorism. Such incidents will send companies into a tailspin as they attempt or consider relocation. We’ve seen a spike in relocation requests due to world events. With this, comes the importance of due diligence and understanding not only your own crisis contingency plans but those of the suppliers and vendors you may hire. Ensure an updated communication plan is always in place, both onsite and internally within your company. Rehearse the plan during a pre-con or site inspection. Take steps to modify the plan regularly to include evolving issues. Identify decision makers and ensure all parties can take action with tiered responsibilities and key roles defined. Protecting the health and safety of attendees and employees is paramount.
Ok, now that we’ve covered trends, let’s talk buzzwords.
If you haven’t been hearing these enough already, be prepared to hear these four buzzwords everywhere this year…
Collaboration: Strength comes in numbers. Pool your resources and networks together from across the industry and work towards a common goal.
Connection: The meeting or event has a purpose and should have a connection to the company, its vision and culture.
Inclusion: Ensuring needs are managed and represented for all demographics in attendance. This means millennials, baby boomers, men, women, senior-level, entry-level, all races and ethnicities, professional and socioeconomic backgrounds, etc.
Sharing Economy: The sharing economy is nothing new but the professional world is now embracing a community built around the sharing of resources. Be prepared to rideshare from your favorite airport and work with more freelancers and remote employees in multiple time zones!
There you have it! Trends are constant proof that our world is ever-evolving. We, as #EventProfs and industry professionals keep our finger on the pulse and remain global citizens to support the evolution. Happy Planning!